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  History of Microsoft Flight Simulator

Hello           It was in 2003 when, being a great simulator flying buff and an owner of a reasonably large collection of flight simulators,  I became seriously interested in the history of the flight simulator legend – Microsoft Flight Simulator. I decided to cover the development of all of its versions ever released. At that time, however, I did not have the foggiest idea how difficult this task would turn out to be. SubLOGIC/Microsoft Flight Simulator is not only one of the oldest computer flight simulator, but its whole family is the largest in the world. This website actually is not dedicated to history of flying, is not dedicated to generally all flight simulators. By the way, I would like to recommend you quite good article "Moving Through the History of Flight: Inventors and Innovators".

My first and at the beginnings also the only source of information was Internet where you can find either masses of files dedicated to individual versions (Apple II FS1, Apple II FS2, MSFS2) or special websites that try to follow the whole history. You can find either very brief websites or more detailed and its authors come from various countries, for example from Italy, Canada, Australia or a very nice article by Ulrich Klein from Germany (on FlightSim). There is also an article about history of Flight Simulator in Wikipedia, the free Internet encyclopedia.

There was the official Microsoft website describing the history of Flight Simulator in English language. Unfortunately it already does not work as well as in other languages.

The Flight Simulator genealogy is fairly well covered from version 3.0 onwards. Nevertheless, earlier versions are much more difficult to track down. Unfortunately, although Internet provides an immense amount of useful information, it is also a source of all conceivable misinformation. To make the matters worse, some erroneous facts are frequently adopted by authors of new articles without proper authentication.

This is a promotional movie for the Flight Simulator History Website.

After a considerably long period of searching I finally found Jos Grupping’s website from the Netherlands which turned out to be the most comprehensive and accurate source of my first information. Jos has been working on the Flight Simulator history for several years. As Jos is an active type of person and has some other interests, there is still a lot to be done is research of Flight Simulator history. In the course of time, I discovered some missing parts in his history description. Moreover, there are practically no Czech websites dealing with this subject. In October 2001 LEVEL magazine (issued in the Czech Republic) featured an extensive article published on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the civil flight simulation. Nevertheless, even this article contains inaccurate or incomplete information. That is why I decided to contribute with my own website.

Flight Simulator History

History research

After some time I realized that I would need my own copies of all the versions. This would be the best way how to find out the years of release, facts about authors and graphics. Otherwise, I would always have to face misinformation, errors and inaccuracies. However, it is not easy to get your own copies. First, it was necessary to determine the actual beginning of the Flight Simulator history, then to sort out its versions and match the computer platforms for which those versions were designed.

Part of my collection

Part of my collection

OK, let‘s begin with some basic facts

There are various flight simulation programs with very similar or even identical names which have nothing to do with subLOGIC/Microsoft “Flight Simulator” program. For instance, in 1982 Psion released their “Flight Simulation” for ZX 81 and ZX Spectrum, followed by Myrddin Software which produced a similar program for Amstrad CPC in 1984. In 1983 Artic Computing Ltd. made “Flight Simulator” for ZX Spectrum, and in 1985 Microdeal did the same for Sinclair QL.

Two men of subLOGIC - Bruce Artwick and Stu Moment

Two men of subLOGIC - Bruce Artwick and Stu Moment

The very first version of Flight Simulator 1 was created by Bruce Artwick. It came out in 1980 under Artwick’s company label subLOGIC and was designed for the Apple II and TRS-80. Later, the same producer released another versions designated with Roman II for Apple II, Commodore 64, Atari (400/ 800/ 800XL 600XL/ 1200XL/ 1400XL/ 1450XLD/ XE console), Atari ST, Amiga, Data General/One. There were also versions for NEC PC-9801, NEC PC-8801, Color Computer 3 and MSX. Simultaneously, Artwick (subLOGIC) also prepared releases designated Flight Simulator 1 for IBM PC, Apple Macintosh and Texas Instruments Professional Computer, Flight Simulator 2 for IBM PC and Tandy 1000/ 1200HD/ 2000. They were released under Microsoft label. The author of all of them was Artwick who later sold all Flight Simulator rights to Microsoft. These parallel releases for such a wide range of computers caused immense chaos. Nevertheless, nowadays it is quite normal that a PC game is created by one company and released by another one. Things got even more confused after Artwick left subLOGIC. The company went on producing new flight simulators and flight simulation related accessories (mentioned elsewhere). Microsoft pretends that it has nothing to do with the earliest version and presents Microsoft Flight Simulator 1.00 from 1982 as its first version. It should be pointed out that Artwick and his company subLOGIC, later BAO, also programmed further versions for Microsoft until 1996 when BAO, Artwick’s second company, was swallowed by Microsoft for good.

Microsoft Flight Simulator 1.00 and X

Microsoft Flight Simulator X and Microsoft Flight Simulator 1.00

Was it easy to get all the versions?

As I have been flying simulators for a considerable long period, my collection comprises all versions for PC from MSFS 3.0 onwards. However, getting earlier versions as well as versions for other platforms was much more complicated. Obviously, they were withdrawn from the market long time ago, therefore I checked out websites of Atari, Amiga, Macintosh and other fans on Internet. I also browsed through forums and contacted enthusiasts of virtual flying in the world. I managed to find several versions using the ftp search programs. I even tried to contact Microsoft, but I got formal answer only. Thanks to numerous fans I finally got most of the early versions. The rest of priceless original packages were bought either in eBay, Yahoo!Japan auctions or elsewhere. Thus, after several years my collection was nearly complete. Still, there was another problem. Most of the early versions were designed for other computers than PCs, therefore original platforms or their emulators were necessary. That is, however, a different story. At last, I managed to run and evaluate all my packages, and retrieved information on their authors either from the programs or their covers. Unfortunately, even though you own genuine media and manuals, you can never be sure about the exact year of release. In some cases the year of copyright does not correspond to the actual year of release (this applies to the first release of the version for Atari, improved modifications of 2.x version or MS Flight Simulator 3.0, for instance). So, I had to use other sources of information as well. In this way I have compiled the Flight Simulator complete history. Now it is time to present it to you.


© 2005 - 2015 Josef  Havlík


NEWS (details here):

August 18, 2014

Still nothing new here, but it is coming...

February 29, 2012

Special date: new Microsoft Flight was released. More here.

Microsoft Flight Website

November 15, 2011

New 3:33 min. promotional  movie. The complete 37:33 min. history movie is now on-line on My YouTube channel

November 14, 2010

See an interview with Bruce Artwick !

Bruce Artwick - June 3, 2010

March 10, 2010

The 5th web anniversary!!! News here.

December 15, 2009

New video page and the Flight Simulator X page.

Microsoft Flight Simulator X

March 26, 2009

New information about a modified version of FS II for C 64.

February 20, 2009

Great update here!!! Read more on News page.

September 4, 2008

New DOSBox download available with D-Fend Reloaded graphical interface and MSFS1.00.

Comparison page is enlarged. Few manuals available as well.

August 22, 2008

Here are few new updates: thanks to Peter Veenstra of DOSBox team and in cooperation with Jos Grupping I managed to implement MSFS 1.00 in DOSBox download. Thanks to Phil Lange I made several new screenshots of FSII for C 64. Finally, I appended an animation of T80-FS1.

December 4, 2007

I released the first particular page for one version of Flight Simulator.

subLOGIC Flight Simulator 1 for Apple II - sub-version with 12 x 12 square scenery

November 27, 2007

Do you want to fly very old versions of Flight Simulator? Do you want to make videos and screenshots? Try my new download with DOSBox.

November 15, 2007

More downloads available! The rare versions for Data General/One, PS/2, and A2-3D1 demo. Whole early history is now covered in MESS emulator.

May 24, 2007

I prepared a gif animation for Wikipedia.

May 2, 2007

Thanks to great job of Jeff Leyda from USA we have next Flight Simulator versions in  a disk image format.

April 30, 2007

An interview for GemeStar Germany magazine.

January 30, 2007

Two short parts of my FS history video was used for Windows Vista advertising on MSN website.

April 24, 2005

I connected the website counter.

March 10, 2005

The best news is that this website was launched.